Written by Sean Dahlin
BUENA VISTA, Va.—Behind three home runs from redshirt freshman Nicholas Lyons (Bryson City, N.C.), the Southern Virginia University baseball team won both contests on Wednesday 23-1 and 10-7 against Christendom College at Casey Field.
"Nicholas [Lyons] has been working very hard in the batting cage, and today everything came together for him in a career day at the plate," said fourth-year Head Coach Logan Mann. "Our bats came alive and everybody took part in the action."
Southern Virginia's (17-11) offensive attack combined for 33 runs and 38 hits in the twin bill sweep of USCAA-affiliate Christendom (1-6) highlighted by Lyons' performance going 4-for-5 with three homers,—he hit a two-run blast and grand slam both in the fifth inning of game one—eight RBI and three runs scored.
"My swing felt right on today and I saw the ball really well," said Lyons. "My goal was to try and do all that I could to help my team win."
The opener began as Southern Virginia plated the first six runs of the day with three apiece in the first and second innings.
Junior shortstop Mitch Stevenson (Muskogee, Okla.), who went 4-for-4 with four RBI while scoring three runs in the opener, and senior catcher Barrett Price (Georgetown, S.C.) got the ball rolling in the bottom of the first on a pair of doubles to left-center bringing in two RBI and one RBI respectively.
The second inning consisted of a Tyler Clark (Idaho Falls, Idaho) run-scoring triple, who later scored on an error by right field, finished with Stevenson singling home senior outfielder Dale Brown (Mesa, Ariz.).
After the Crusaders' lone run of the contest in the top of the third on a Nicholas Blank RBI-single to second base, Southern Virginia scored 17 unanswered runs in fourth and fifth innings, including a 14-run showing in the bottom of the fifth on route to the victory.
Senior designated Tyler Cox (Forest, Miss.) hit the first home run of the day in the fourth frame on a blast over the left field wall igniting three more to be registered in the following inning, including a grand slam apiece by freshman Avery Benesch (Gilbert, Ariz.) and Lyons.
Six Knights recorded multi-hit performances with senior Robert Key (Flower Mound, Texas) going 4-for-4 with a double and three runs scored in addition to freshman second baseman Matthew Painter's (Las Vegas, Nev.) three hits, two runs and an RBI.
Brown swiped two bags in game one to give him a team-high 14 stolen bases on the year—two short of his career-high 16 steals in 2011.
Junior right-hander Mitchell Mantle (St. George, Utah) garnered his first win of 2013 allowing no earned runs and striking out seven batters through five complete while Christendom's Nicholas Blank gave up six runs on eight hits through 3.0 innings in the loss.
In game two, the Crusaders took the early lead as Charlie Rollino singled home Nate Harrington in the top of the first.
Southern Virginia then took the lead 4-1 in the bottom of the next inning on RBI-singles by Benesch, Key and freshman outfielder Austen Hammond (Fayetteville, Ga.) followed up by Lyons' third smash of the day that soared over the left field fence.
In the next two frames, the Knights added a combined six runs to extend their lead to 10-1 highlighted by run-scoring doubles from Price in the bottom of the third and fourth innings.
A Christendom rally was initiated in the top of the sixth as Mike Bobrowski knocked in Rollino in the top of the sixth. The Crusaders continued to chip away with five more runs in the seventh capped by a Mike Arnold two-RBI single to right field before freshman reliever Jonathan Hodges (Cleveland, Tenn.) struck out pinch hitter Pat O'Reilly for the final out of the competition, closing the door on the attempted comeback.
Senior first baseman Trager Hintze (Purcell, Okla.) went 2-for-3 with a double and RBI while Key added two more base knocks for a six-hit day in the win.
Starting pitcher Stevenson (1-0) tossed five innings of one-run, four-hit ball and registered seven strikeouts in his debut on the mound in 2013. Christendom starter Thomas Maurer was handed the loss allowing six earned runs on eight hits in 3.0 innings.
Hodges, who has a team-leading 2.96 ERA, earned his third save of 2013 in the night cap, ranking him second in program history for single-season saves—Michael Bowen had four saves in 2006.
Baseball has no time to rest traveling south to face ODAC-foe Roanoke College in a rescheduled night game on Thurs., Apr. 11, starting at 7 p.m.